Four Critical Strategies to Improve our Schools
To obtain quality education for San Francisco's children, we must engage parents and the community, support our teachers, address critical gaps and stand for excellence.
Throughout this campaign, I will listen and learn from you. The Action Steps we take will be centered around these four issues:
Engage Parents: Parents entrust their children to our schools and are essential partners for success. The current student assignment process is stressful and complicated. Parents who can afford to send their kids elsewhere often do so in order to avoid this process, leaving behind equally frustrated parents who do not have a choice. I've tried to navigate that system myself and came away perplexed. Imagine doing so if you're a newcomer parent unfamiliar with U.S. schools. Parents deserve quality school choices and the necessary services for their children to thrive in every neighborhood. The School District appears committed to that principle and I will work to make it a reality. I will bring back graduates of all our schools to engage as role models for students, as peer mentors of current parents, and as financial supporters to fill gaps in school needs.
Support our Teachers: At the cornerstone of our public education system is the expertise of the classroom teacher supported by administrators and the community. We must attract and retain teachers who reach, inspire and educate our children. A teacher who has to commute on public transit for 90 minutes before starting the day in front of the classroom cannot be the effective and caring instructor they want to be. Teacher housing in San Francisco is essential and I will use my housing experience to help those across city government who are tackling this problem. Within the school system, I support adjusting teacher workload so they can better engage with students and parents, collaborate with each other to understand student educational needs and challenges and obtain the professional development to be their best. I would explore tuition support at area universities for advanced training for teachers committed to remaining in our schools.
Address Critical Gaps: I support the District's African American Learning Initiative and Parent Advisory Council. We should use this as a model to establish a Latino Education Initiative to address the 26% of our public school students who, on the whole, are falling further behind their non-Latino peers in math, English and other measures of educational attainment. I agree with civil rights leaders who have called upon the State Board of Education to measure individual student academic growth rather than how particular schools are doing, year-by-year. We have serious performance gaps whether Latino students are concentrated in a few schools or account for a small sector of larger schools. Mobilizing for positive outcomes requires teachers, parents, community members, the city and the schools to come together. With the right partnership, we can improve student outcomes, integrate needed city services, familiarize parents with school expectations, equip teachers with cultural competence and upgrade school facilities.
Stand for Excellence: The District's education approach emphasizes 5 E's: Engage, Explore, Explain, Extend and Evaluate. We must also Expect Excellence to fully prepare students for 21st century higher education and careers. I oppose any artificial ceilings in education and support offering Algebra in middle school. Providing our students a solid foundation at the earlier grades enables them to succeed at whatever higher levels they aspire to reach. We must not ignore any child's potential.
Please join me in this urgent effort to improve our schools and educate all of San Francisco's children.